In Aramaic the word “nazir” means to sacrifice, set aside or dedicate. I remember our parents used the term nazir to teach us acts of charity. Often times, my mother would say …
In Aramaic the word “nazir” means to sacrifice, set aside or dedicate. I remember our parents used the term nazir to teach us acts of charity. Often times, my mother would say “nazir and bring me a drink of water” which truly meant do a sacrificial act by bringing her a drink of water. This was a great way to teach us from little on that every helpful act regardless of how insignificant it may seem is an act of self-sacrifice and charity or “nazir.”
Christ was known as a Nazarene and some theologians say it is because he was from Nazareth; others say because the Greek translation for Nazarene is a branch referring to the branch from Jesse prophesized by Isaiah.
However, Jesus’ title of Nazarene or Nazarite is not the first time it is seen in the Bible. If you remember the story of Samson, he too was referred to as a Nazarite. Judges 13:5-7 “For, see, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” So, the term Nazarite in this passage means dedicated and set aside. On another occasion, Nazarite is used in the Bible for the prophet Samuel, son of Hannah.
Hannah was barren and prayed to the Lord to give her a son. 1 Samuel 1:11: “And she vowed to God and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget your handmaid, but will give to your handmaid a man child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come on his head.’” Samuel was dedicated to the Lord so he was a Nazarite who served the Lord his entire life. Another Nazarite in the Bible is Saint John the Baptist. When the angel spoke to Saint Zacharias about the birth of Saint John, he said, “For he will be great in sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Saint John served the Lord to his death.
It is obvious that the term Nazarite has its roots in Jewish tradition to specify one who is dedicated or set aside for the Lord. Nazarites sacrificed their life for the good of their people as they served God. Christ, the ultimate Nazarite, suffered and died on the cross so that we would be cleansed from our sins and have eternal life with him. Since we are baptized in Christ, are we not Nazarites as well? Though we do not have to suffer and die on the cross, we are called to die to self each and every day to serve God and his people. Every act of kindness, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, is an act of self-sacrifice. We often forget to offer up to God our day and all it consists of — even if it may be getting a glass water for someone, doing the laundry, preparing a meal, tying a shoe for a little one and taking out the garbage.
As Saint Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” This is a powerful statement because love is not just an emotion, love is being committed to the wellbeing of another unconditionally and living beyond yourself.
We at times may think, why would God want my offerings? Because you are his beloved child baptized into his holy family. You are precious in his sight regardless of your ‘sins’ and by realizing how much God loves you, you are able to love others and give of yourself. I think our parents were wise in teaching us from little on that as we helped others, we were lovingly giving of ourselves and honoring God as his Nazarite.
(Autourina Mains is a cradle Catholic who was born and raised in the Middle East. She is an Assyrian and speaks the ancient Aramaic language, which was used to write the first five books of the Bible.)